51 Ways to Save Money This Year
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Saving money is difficult! But, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as we sometimes make it out to be. Implementing even a few of these will help you stay within your budget without necessarily getting rid of all the fun in your life. Below you’ll find ways to go to the movies for cheap, save on gas, build a better retirement fund and more. Have your own ideas? Like us on Facebook and share them with us! Here are 51 ways we know you can save money this year. Let’s get started:
Everyday Savings Tips:
- Budget. This will always be a part of the list! Budget for savings. Make sure a little of each paycheck is going into savings. Making it a set number each paycheck makes it easier to know how much you can save in a given time period. You Need a Budget says to assign every dollar a job. Even if you save $1, know specifically what you’re saving for. Need a new car? Building your emergency fund? Want a family vacation this summer? If you know what you’re saving for then you’ll be reluctant to spend any of your savings on impulse buys.
- Limit the times you eat out a month. For many, lunch can be the hardest time not to eat out. With busy work schedules and running here and there for the kids, you might often choose your favorite fast food. But, even spending only $5 a lunch, that’s $25 a week. But if you decide to go with a healthy sandwich or salad… think of how much food just $12-$15 can purchase a week.
- Use cash and save your change. It may remind you of something your grandparents did for you when you were young, but you would be surprised at just how much your change adds up. This can be turned into your vacation spending money or simply a night out on the town for you and your spouse. Make a commitment not to dig into it until your jar or piggy bank is full.
- Every time you get $5 in cash, save it! You’ll be surprised to see how quickly those Lincoln’s add up. This is a great way to save up for a quick vacation or that new outfit you’ve been eyeing.
- Prioritize an emergency fund. Even if you’re in debt, you should still work to build an emergency fund as quickly as possible. By doing so, you may actually keep yourself out of MORE debt. When the stove breaks, the car won’t start or the water heater goes out, you’ll have a little nest egg to fix the issue without piling on more debt.
- Want to retire one day? Start as early as possible. If you haven’t already, ask your employer if they offer a match in a 401K or IRA account. If they do, try to at least commit to adding what they’ll match. Generally, that’s 1-3% of your income they’re willing to give extra toward your retirement plan.
- Only put on your credit card what you know you can pay off in the next month. Or, if it’s a larger purchase you don’t have the savings for, only put it on your credit card if you have a timeline worked out for when it will be fully paid off. Even a few months of paying interest can hurt your bank account and planning. It’s best if you’re able to pay the full balance each month when your bill arrives.
- In debt? Focus on your high interest rate loans or credit cards first. Put any extra money you have each month toward paying on the principal of these loans. The quicker you’re able to pay off this debt, the more money you’ll be able to save in the end.
- If you often treat yourself to coffee/soda/slushies/milkshakes, wait until happy hour for half price drinks (Sonic, Dunkin’, Burger King, Steak ‘n Shake, etc.)
- Follow money saving blogs and try some of their tips such as Passionate Penny Pincher, Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar Blog and ours.
- Take online surveys. You need to be careful with this because sometimes they ask too much personal information. But, if you’re looking for a way to make a little extra spending money then taking online surveys could be an option.
Around the House Savings:
- Use a crock pot or instant pot. Using your oven any time of year will increase in your energy usage, especially if your home is working to keep things cool and your oven is working to heat things up. Some smaller appliances today can help you cook a yummy meal without increasing your electric bill.
- Buy reusable straws. It’s a small expense, but with a dishwasher, there’s no reason to keep buying new.
- Buy glass storage containers instead of plastic. They’ll last longer and many times you’ll be less willing to leave them in the work fridge for weeks. They’re better for the environment and in the end will save you money.
- Start using a grocery savings app. Depending on where you shop for groceries will depend on which is best for you. If you shop at Walmart, be sure to download their branded app called Savings Catcher. Or, if you shop at Kroger, download their app to download coupons before you shop.
- Stock up on staples. When you find a great deal on your favorite cereal or the toilet paper you use, go ahead and stock up. Especially if the shelf life is long and you have the storage space, you could save quite a bit in the long run. Check your budget though, if it’s going to put you behind this month it’s not worth buying in bulk.
- Find your local butcher and check prices. You might be surprised at the deals you can get on local, fresh meat by buying directly from your local butcher. Ask if they have any weekly sales or if they bundle their meat for a special price.
- Don’t automatically buy off-brand items. Before you pick up the generic version of your favorite cereal or cheese, take a look at a few things.
- What’s the price difference between the two brands? Don’t just look at the ticket, look at the price per ounce.
- Do you have a coupon or do coupons come out regularly you could use to stock up on your favorite item?
- There are many times we reach for the generic when in actuality the name brand is on sale that day and is actually cheaper. Pay attention to all the prices to make sure you’re not only saving money, but you’re getting the option you like best!
- Check the ads, coupons and sales. If you know holiday cooking is coming up, start looking for those holiday cooking essentials on sale. Many grocery stores will have different sales throughout the season, starting sometimes in October. Stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, chocolate chips, butter, a turkey…start looking for what you know you’ll need while you can get it at a fraction of the cost.
- Check expiration dates. Only purchase if you know you’ll eat it before it expires. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. If you end up throwing it away because you forgot to eat it that’s the same as throwing your cash away. So, make your grocery list and stick to it. If you do find items on sale that you like, it’s ok to stock up, but ensure it‘s items you will use.
- Shop discount grocery stores. These aren’t necessarily always the cheapest if you have a coupon at your normal grocery store. Visit a few of them and compare prices on your staples. You might discover a new favorite grocery stop.
Shopping Rewards & Tips:
- Sign up for a Fuel Rewards programs. Example: Kroger’s Fuel Points system or some credit cards have fuel rewards programs.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for the discount. Purchasing fine jewelry? Negotiate the price. Buying a car or large equipment? Ask for a lower price and what incentives they can offer. Booking a hotel? Ask if that’s their best offer. The worst they can do is say no.
- Sign up for cash back program apps (but not all of them). Limit yourself to a few that make sense to you and then use them to your advantage. There are quite a few of them to choose from so try out one or two at a time and decide which you think you’ll be most likely to use on a regular basis. There is Ibotta, Checkout 51, Shopkick, Fetch Rewards and many others! But, remember, just because you’ll receive a discount on something doesn’t mean that it’s a good deal. Evaluate whether or not you need the item, and if you receive a reward, that’s just an extra bonus!
- Simply check your receipt. Before you leave the store, pull your grocery cart off to the side and check your receipt. You might be surprised at how often something didn’t ring up correctly. If you do find a mistake, go to the service counter and they can usually quickly straighten out the problem.
- Become well acquainted with your local thrift shops. Use these to make and save money. When you clean out your closets make a pile to take specifically to the local thrift store. Then, when you need new clothes for the family, you may discover you already have a balance to shop with.
- Download apps/sign up for emails from your favorite restaurants and grocery stores. Some send free birthday coupons or reward you after so many visits.
- Check with your credit card provider. Many offer rewards points that allow you to save on gas, order free gift cards or even earn free flights.
- Check online pricing during big sales events too (ex. Black Friday). You might be able to skip the crowds and save gas while still getting the same deal.
- Planning a vacation? Check the pricing differences between the peak times and the out of season dates. Many locations still offer a relaxing, beautiful vacation year-round. You might be able to take a longer vacation at a better price by picking a less popular time to travel.
- Yard sales are a great way to save money if you’re looking for discounted furniture, clothes or kitchen utensils. Be sure to grab cash at a Signet ATM before heading out though. Limit yourself, knowing what you’re looking for and how much you have to spend.
- Do you tell friends about your favorite app or service? Many times a great review or sending a friend a referral link could mean more cash in your wallet.
- Do you hate coming home to a dark house, but don’t want to waste energy during the day leaving a light on? They now make smart plugs to allow you to sync your phone with your home. Want the lights to come on as you drive up? The smart plug can detect you’ve arrived home and will immediately turn on before you walk in the house. Saves on energy costs and allows you to feel safe every night coming in.
- Search for energy savings options for your home. Could you try a different type of light bulb? Is it time for a new washer or refrigerator? Even newer TVs can help you save in energy costs throughout the year.
- Layer up! Not ideal, but if you’re really needing to pinch pennies, then turn the heat down even one notch. If you know you’re going to be up moving around, this is the time to turn the heat down a little. Between your layers and the work/exercise, you won’t notice that it’s not your normal 68 degree home.
Entertainment Savings Ideas:
- If you like to read, make an Amazon wishlist for your e-reader. Check it often, sorting it from low to high prices. Then when a book on the list is free or $.99, buy it!
- Also, if you’re an avid reader or movie buff, utilizing your library is the number one way to save a little cash. Most libraries now offer online e-books, a large DVD collection and of course both nonfiction and fiction books. Many modern libraries even pre-order new releases of movies and books so they’re quickly ready for their membership to check out.
- Love going to the movies? Some local theaters have a discount time or day throughout the week. Check with your favorite theater for discounts.
- If movies are your go-to date night, plan it during the week to save money. AT&T has an app that allows customers to buy one ticket and get the other one free every Tuesday.
Saving on Services You Need:
- Had your insurance for a few years? Start shopping for new options at a lower price. Whether this is for your car or home, you might be surprised at the discount you can receive simply by switching.
- Choose to work with a credit union. Banks many times have more fees, all with higher prices. With a credit union, you’ll find most services are free or have very low fees attached. See how a credit union works here.
- Spend money, to save money. There are a few places you need to spend some money so you can save down the road. This includes items like: car routine maintenance or home furnace/HVAC inspections. By keeping things maintained, you’ll be able to extend the longevity of items like this.
- Call your various providers and see if they can offer you a better rate. If not, start shopping around to see if you’re paying the best rate for services you use daily. (examples: car insurance, home insurance, internet provider, TV network provider, etc.
- Check your insurance benefits. Healthcare costs can be dismal for many, but some are still offering a few perks. Call your insurance and ask what benefits or incentives they offer to their customers. Here are some common ones:
- Free gift cards for making healthy lifestyle choices. Walking so many steps, getting a good night’s sleep, etc. can turn into points that qualify you for gift cards to places you shop often.
- Gym Memberships or discounts. Some insurance plans will offer you a refund on your gym membership if you check into your gym so many times a month.
- Annual testing, blood work, physicals, etc. to see if you get cash back.
Annual Budget Needs:
- Makeover your Christmas list with DIY gifts. NOTE: DIY does not always mean cheaper, sometimes it means an even higher cost. So, before buying all the supplies, do a cost analysis and see if this truly will be cheaper. Plus, you have to take into account all the time spent making the gifts. But, if you have a hobby you love doing, start early in the year, buy supplies when they go on sale and have fun making your loved ones gifts they’ll cherish.
- Downsize your vacation. You don’t want to cut out vacations completely, but if you’re saving for a new home or a new car, it’s a good idea to make them a little closer to home. Think about taking a long weekend vacation only a few hours away. Or, commit to taking a few day trips throughout the year instead of one long vacation. Put the money you would normally spend in your long-term savings account.
- Need school supplies for the new semester? Shop your home first! Look through closets, old backpacks, etc. to take inventory of what items are still in good condition and what items you still need to get. You might discover that you already have most of what you need for another year.
Tax Refund Options:
- Immediately put your tax refund toward outstanding debt with either the lowest balance or the highest rate.
- Fund your emergency savings so you’re not in a position to take on debt when unexpected purchases or repairs pop up.
- Invest it! Do you already have an IRA? Add this to it to increase your retirement savings.
- Go back to school. It won’t be enough to get you through college, but it could give you the start you need if you’re not happy with the career path you’re on.
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